View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

DSCC Throws Weight Behind Salazar 

Looks like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is completely committed to Ken Salazar for the Senate. They don't even list Mike Miles as a candidate on their web site. Miles, who pulled an upset at the party's state assembly to win the primary ballot's top line, is furious at the DSSC continuing to call Salazar not "the prospective nominee," or "presumptive nominee," but just the nominee.

He should be upset. And the Democrats are doing themselves a disservice. The Post article points out that in other states, the DSSC web site does list several candidates. The national Democrats must be getting nervous that Salazar doesn't really have this thing all wrapped up, after all. They may taste a pickup here in Colorado, and feel that Miles is endangering that. And yet, having misjudged their own party dynamics so badly, their judgment regarding the state's broader electorate may not be as sound as they think.

Colorado is a state with a national profile, and yet a small enough population that politics is still very much retail. Money matters, of course, but the Denver media market is hardly LA or New York. There simply is no reason why an interested voter couldn't have met all four of the main candidates personally before the primary. And that will continue to be true in the general election. National parties apparently tend to think in terms of media buys first, candidate appeal second.

One of the time-honored tactics of campaigns is to create an air of inevitability, to claim momentum, to make it seem as though their candidate will win, so you're just wasting your valuable envelope-stuffing time (and worse, your money) by backing the other guy. But it's unusual for national parties to blatantly interfere in primaries this way. Even the national Republicans, who were clearly pulling for somebody other than Schaffer, did so behind the scenes.

If Miles does pull off an upset in August, the DSSC is going to have to back up so fast they'll beep.

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